From Interim DHW Director Dean Cameron: Three good things from this week’s work at DHW

January 26, 2024
Interim DHW Director Dean Cameron

Senior leaders at the Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) have a tradition of starting meetings with three good things that have taken place in the previous week or two. Practicing gratitude has been shown to benefit personal wellbeing, and I believe it also benefits us as a group to think about the ways we’re making a difference for Idahoans.

This week and periodically on this blog, I want to highlight three good things that DHW has done for Idahoans. 

Ten children adopted in my first weeks

As interim director at DHW it’s my job to sign legal adoption papers for children being adopted from foster care into new families. My authorization is needed for the court to grant that adoption. So far it is one of my favorite parts of my responsibility as director. 

Each adoption is a story of hope, and in my first four weeks I’ve signed adoptions for ten children. Today I signed one for two brothers to be adopted by the same parents. As I read the situation of these children and the backgrounds of the prospective parents, I experience a rollercoaster of emotions. My heart aches from the situations these children come from, and my heart swells with gratitude for the families and parents who open their homes. These children are of all ages, and some have physical and emotional challenges. 

This meaningful and important part of my job, is made possible by the work of hundreds of DHW staff who help care for children that come into state care, work to reunite them with their families, and sometimes place them in new families. In my mind there is no greater way of making a difference than to help children moving from unsafe situations to safe, nurturing, and loving adoptive families.

My admiration and gratitude goes out to the parents and all who work to help our children thrive and feel loved. 

Assigned to my responsibility are 1,554 foster children. Of those 1,531 are currently placed in foster care or residential treatment placements. We have 23 children in need of foster parents right now. We also have new children coming into foster care every day. Foster parents and adoptive parents are always needed, so I encourage Idahoans to learn more and consider helping a child:

EMS leaders strive for sustainability 

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) leaders from throughout the state gathered at the Capitol on Monday to continue a conversation with lawmakers about challenges facing Idaho’s EMS system.

EMS in Idaho is provided within a framework of different organizations that vary in patient transport and clinical abilities, and the current system risks longer response times due to the dated model, personnel challenges, and Idaho’s rural nature.

EMS services are so critical to our citizens as they recreate and travel. Often those remote areas are the least able to sustain appropriate and needed services. Because of that a sustainability task force was created. 

The EMS Sustainability Task Force is a comprehensive group of EMS experts working together to find solutions to the challenges facing those who provide emergency medical response throughout Idaho. Please learn more about their work

I want to express appreciation to the task force members for their work and efforts. I want to also thank the legislators who have been working diligently on this issue. We stand ready to assist you in your efforts. 

Alzheimer’s and related dementias report finalized

In 2021 the Idaho Legislature provided funding to form the Idaho Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD) Program as a public health approach to dementia in Idaho. The ADRD Program’s mission is to expand brain health and ADRD awareness, educational opportunities, supports, and services in Idaho.

The ADRD Program presented its 2023 annual report to the Senate Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday. The report identifies policy gaps for Alzheimer’s disease and dementias in Idaho and highlights the prevalence of dementia, but focuses on Idahoans who have dementia and are in crisis.

Key issues include the need for protective placements; improved protections for assisted living residents; enhanced training for direct care workers, law enforcement, and emergency responders; public education; empowering primary care providers to provide early diagnoses; and supporting the family caregiver across the lifespan. 

As a son who lost our mother to Alzheimer’s I know firsthand the challenges to families. I am grateful to the team that dedicated time and effort to this report and look forward to next steps and working with legislators to address gaps. 

The report is available at DHW’s website, and I encourage Idahoans to read it.

DHW is here to serve you. Have a great weekend.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. Learn more at 

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